For the first time since the 2010 WNBA season, the Minnesota Lynx failed to reach the postseason while seeing their streak of 11 consecutive playoff appearances — the second-longest such run in WNBA history — come to an end. They started the year slow for a second season in a row, opening the regular season as the last team to crack into the win column and were 3-13 in mid-June.
Minnesota turned things around as the summer progressed, holding a spot as a playoff team with two games remaining. However, they came up one game short of a top-eight spot in the standings needed to reach the postseason.
There is plenty that went wrong during the summer. Injuries, absences, and constant roster changes resulted in chemistry issues and poor team performance. Even though things eventually improved, those early hurdles proved too much to overcome. However, the team’s lack of overall buy-in and dedication collectively might have doomed Minnesota from the get-go.
What Went Wrong
The Lynx were in the postseason hunt at the end of the regular season. They controlled their destiny while likely needing to win out. They at least had to split the final two games against the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun. Before those games, Minnesota was sitting in the seventh spot in the WNBA standings and the playoffs.
But the Lynx ended that two-game span to round out the year going 0-2 against two teams that claimed top-four spots in the league standings. As a result, they dropped out of the postseason picture, ultimately failing to reach the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons.
Minnesota showed it was a playoff-caliber team late in the year, after a rough first month or so of the regular season. But they didn’t make it, and Cheryl Reeve said after the year that the team just wasn’t good enough to have their year extended beyond the 36-game regular season.
“We are exactly where we were supposed to be,” Reeve said. “We weren’t good enough to be in the playoffs.”
Reeve noted a few things that went wrong during the year, notably Minnesota’s lack of dedication and desire to improve defensively, which halted success right out of the gate. The Lynx leader also mentioned the team was “not going to be a threat” due to those struggles and inconsistencies.
The winningest coach in postseason history (41), Reeve has been with the Lynx since 2010. She said this year’s team was one of the hardest to get through to from a coaching perspective, with a lack of buy-in throughout the summer.
“We had a little bit of trouble finding our footing,” Reeve said. “It should not have taken us as long as it did. We didn’t have great buy-in and belief, and that’s one of those things that so controllable. It’s really disappointing when it happens, but that was our reality.”
The lack of buy-in and dedication to put in the extra work made things difficult for Reeve. She couldn’t convince this team that they could turn things around, especially when the on-court struggles piled up at the start of the summer. That was the writing on the wall, even with the late-season hot streak.
“I tried to really get to them,” Reeve said. “I tried to yell and cuss and spit. I tried to leave them alone. I was not able to get through to this group. This team just was resistant to being pushed towards being better. I had to accept less, which goes against everything I stand for and believe in so that we could survive. So that we could find some sort of place that they could find success.”
It’s odd to see the WNBA Playoffs without the Lynx, which hasn’t occurred since 2010. But knowing what we know now with the lack of dedication and buy-in from Minnesota that Reeve spotlighted after the season concluded, maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise.
Plenty went wrong during the 2022 season for the Lynx, which ended up being too much to overcome. Now, Minnesota turns to the future with Napheesa Collier taking over as the face and leader of the team in the post-Sylvia Fowles era. In 2023, the Lynx hope to begin a new postseason streak. But it will only happen if the entire team buys in and is as dedicated as it should be to make that happen.